Fun with numbers: Borderlands 2 review
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Developer: Gearbox Software
An endless array of guns, mountains of ammo and a constant stream of bad guys to use the weapons on – it’s time to return to Pandora for the next chapter in Gearbox’s psychotically hilarious epic adventure.
In Borderlands 2, you play as a new quartet of vault hunters who have been called in by the Hyperion Corporation to find the new vault.
Things don’t go too well for the hunters on the opening of the game, as Hyperion’s Leader – Handsome Jack – promptly betrays them. Unlike the first game, Jack acts as the ever-present antagonist, often tormenting the hunters with snide remarks and vicious threats over their echo communication radios, or elaborate traps, that would make Star Wars’ Darth Sidious jealous. Although Jack is the bad guy, his sharp tongue and depraved humor make him surprisingly difficult to dislike.
Upon close inspection, Gearbox did an excellent job in making each class in the game feel special and even more powerful than its predecessor. New talent trees can be sculpted to make your character feel unique and mold to your preferred style of play.
Zer0’s special skill allows him to cloak himself from enemies for a short period of time, creating a double that draws enemy attention away from him and his teammates. If you invest in his bloodshed tree, you become a master of melee combat, able to move around the battlefield with ease, dishing out devastating close-quarter damage with his stylish sword. Invest in the sniping tree and the assassin becomes a lethal force at long ranges and a master of critical hits.
Borderlands 2 takes customization even further with a never-ending supply of loot. One of the most satisfying elements of the game is seeing loot pour out of downed adversaries all over the field. The weapon drops are mostly random, so you are never sure exactly what you are going to get.
Something that looks like a normal assault rifle might actually function as a grenade launcher. A rocket launcher might shoot rockets that explode over and over again until the primary round hits its target, dealing massive damage to anything in its path. The massive variety of weapon quirks keeps the game fresh and makes every drop and test fire feel exciting and unique.
Weapon manufacturers return from the original game and every designer has their niche. Jakobs guns, which use an old west/steampunk design, do massive damage but lack elemental powers.
Hyperion models have sleek, sci-fi textures and increase in accuracy as they are fired, but the accuracy mechanism can be annoying when you are trying to make a pin point shot or the gun has a small magazine.
Tediore guns have one of the most interesting quirks. When you try to reload one of these guns, instead of loading in a new magazine, you throw the weapon like a grenade and a new gun materializes in your hands. This gimmick can be great in a close-quarters brawl but can become a bit of a nuisance if you are in long-range combat or taking cover.
Besides the actual gameplay, the best part of Borderlands 2 is the dark, deranged humor present in every facet of the adventure. Whether you are looting guns from a portable toilet or listening to Claptrap’s new dubstep song, the laughs never stop. Hilarious missions – like kidnapping a bandit for a lethal tea party – litter the campaign.
Borderlands 2supports up to four-player co-op, and it can be played in split-screen on consoles. Playing with friends is a lot of fun and opens up an endless avenue of strategies with the added bonus of better loot drops – contrary to playing with strangers, which often makes the game more difficult.
Random teammates sometimes run off to steal all the loot they can get their hands on, and games can dissolve into a race to the next chest. Gearbox should have followed the example of games like Diablo 3, where the players get their own loot, or a dice-rolling system like in World of Warcraft.
Borderlands 2 takes all of the elements that made the original a classic and puts them into overdrive. Take the best parts of a first person shooter and classic RPG ideas, and compound them into a hypnotizing story, and you have a recipe for golden glorious mayhem.